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A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                             21 T>
The soldier looked round guiltily and, hunching his
shoulders to adjust his brand-new greatcoat, began to push
his way out of the crowd.
"You are right! We've lost a lot of ground," sighed
another man, and shaking his head bitterly, he exclaimed:
Here an old man in a canvas dust-coat, a village school-
teacher or, perhaps, a country doctor, spoke up in defence
of the soldier:
"Why blame him? Is it his fault? How many of them
have been killed already! Look at the force that's pushing
against us! The whole of Europe—and in tanks! How can
you hold that up all at once? By rights we ought to go
down on our knees and thank that boy that we are still
alive and walking freely about Moscow. Look how many
countries the fascists have trampled with their tanks within
a week! But we have been fighting for over a year and we
are still hitting back—and how many we have laid out!
The whole world ought to go down on its knees to that
boy! And you say 'back away'."
"I know, I know, for God's sake don't give me any prop-
aganda! My mind knows it, but my heart aches fit to
burst!" answered the railwayman gloomily. "It's our land
the Germans are trampling, it's our homes they are de-
"Is he there?1' asked Anyuta, pointing to the southern
part of the map,
"Yes. And she's there, too," answered Alexei.
Right on the blue loop of the Volga, above Stalingrad,
he saw a dot over which was the inscription "Kamyshin".
For him it was something more than a dot on the map.
The vision rose before his eyes of a small green town,
grassy suburban streets, poplar-trees with rustling, shiny,
dusty leaves, the smell of dust, fennel and parsley coming
from wattle-fenced vegetable plots, the round, striped
melons looking as if they had been scattered among the
dried leaves on the dry earth of the melon patches, the
wind of the steppe impregnated with the pungent smell of
wormwood, the indescribable shining expanse of the river,
a graceful, grey-eyed, sun-tanned girl, and his mother,
grey-haired and helplessly fussy-----
"They're both there," he repeated.